Monday, June 12, 2017

The Wheel of Fortune


Continuing yesterday’s theme of what’s in our control and what’s not and what’s a mixture of the two. Carl Orff, that visionary artist whose life became the springboard for my own, liked the image of the Medieval Wheel of Fortune. Indeed, his signature work “Carmina Burana” began with “Oh Fortuna!”, a direct reference to the image of Fate spinning us through the highs and lows of any human incarnation.

Though I never met Orff, I was on good terms with Lieselotte Orff, his 4th wife, and visited the home in Diesen outside of Munich where they lived the last years of his life. This was in 2003, in company with some 16 Special Course students. The home was lovely, the library impressive and there in the center of the living room was the piano where he composed Carmina Burana. I sat down and started improvising “The Wheel of Fortune Blues.”

“Well, sometimes you’re up. Sometimes you’re down.
The Wheel of Fortune’s spinning round and round.
Sometimes we’re happy. Sometimes we’re sad.
Sometimes we’re bored and sometimes we’re mad,
We got the Wheel of Fortune Blues!…”

At the end, I looked at her and wondered if I had done something a tad sacrilegious.

“Was that okay?” I asked.

And without missing a beat and with a big smile, she exclaimed, “Carl would have loved it!”

And so with that introduction, my own “first-world” Wheel of Fortune these past two days. On the down side of the cycle:

• I got sick.

• The Warriors lost.

• I had a 6 hour flight to New York, 3 hour layover, 6 hour flight to Lisbon, 3 hour layover, 2 hour flight to Casablanca. While sick.

• I waited for two hours in a 1000 person (my estimate) line to go through Passport Control in Lisbon on the way to my next flight and it didn’t occur to me until I got to the front of the line to ask if I really should be in this line with a connecting flight. The answer was “No.” I was shown the place I should have gone with no line to go directly to my gate.

• In the Casablanca airport, the taxi driver in his non-metered taxi didn’t speak English or Spanish, I didn’t speak French or Arabic, but he was clearly indicating that the short ride to the train station was going to cost over $100 while we were already driving.

• I got to the train station 10 minutes too late for the 4 o’clock train to Fez (another 5 hours) and the next one wasn’t until 6.

On the up side of the cycle.

• I got just the kind of book I like for travel to keep me engaged in a suspenseful story: The Girl in the Spider’s Nest.

• I saw three fluffy entertaining-enough films and slept some.

• My cough actually got a little bit better by the end.

• After thinking it would be just my luck for my bag to get lost and it taking a while for it to appear, it finally did!

• I ended up giving the taxi driver 50 Euros and he gave me back the equivalent of 20. Weird.

• The train station has Wifi and sitting outside in the shade, there’s a nice cool breeze.

There you have it. Compared to drought, war, famine, pestilence, it's a pretty small wheel. But growing up in my "have  nice day culture," it's my privilege to complain! And your privilege to think,  "Dang! Glad I'm staying home this summer!" 

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